Lost islands under the North Sea survived a megatsunami

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Ricky Joseph

Some ancient islands, now submerged in the North Sea, survived a devastating tsunami some 8,000 years ago. Even more, they may have played a key role in Britain's human prehistory, according to a new study.

Soon, research suggests that some parts of the ancient plain known as Doggerland and which linked Britain to the Netherlands withstood the massive Storegga tsunami. The megatsunami submerged most of the region around 6200 BC.

The Storegga was caused by the underwater collapse of a chunk of Norway's continental shelf about 800 kilometers to the north. Scientists had long thought that the tidal wave entirely submerged the Doggerland region between the east coast of England and the European continent.

But new research, based on samples of sediment submerged during ship expeditions in the North Sea, show that some parts of Doggerland survived the ancient tsunami. What's more, they may have remained inhabited by Stone Age humans for thousands of years.

Surviving islands of Doggerland

If the theory is confirmed, the Doggerland islands may have played a role in the later development of Britain. For example, in the introduction of agriculture about 1,000 years later, said study co-author Vincent Gaffney, an archaeologist at the University of Bradford.

Either way, it was a bad time for those who survived, Gaffney points out to Live Science. However, that wasn't the end of Doggerland.

Now, scientists believe the submerged region was exposed by the retreat of the northern ice cap at the end of the last ice age, 12,000 years ago.

The Storegga tsunami in about 6200 BC caused a mega tsunami across the North Atlantic; revealing sediments left by the tsunami have been discovered in the region.(Image credit: Lost Frontiers of Europe Project / University of Bradford / M. Muru)

Around 10,000 years old, Doggerland was a landscape of ponds, marshes, rivers, lakes and forests. It may have been one of the richest hunting and fishing areas in Europe in the Mesolithic period.

Europe's Lost Frontiers project is leading efforts to investigate the archaeology of Doggerland and reconstruct the ancient landscape as it looked before it sank beneath the waves. So scientists discovered that by the time of the Storegga tsunami, much of Doggerland would have been submerged due to rising sea levels, Gaffney said.

Tsunami did not destroy the archipelago

However, a remarkable core of seabed sediment near the East English estuary of the River Ouse, known as the Wash, shows that land remained above water for many years yet. Even after the tsunami.

Computer models suggest other nearby regions also survived as isolated islands, Gaffney reports.

In conclusion, researchers have now dubbed these islands the "Dogger Archipelago" and the higher parts of a central region - currently known as the "DoggerHills" - are believed to have also survived the Storegga tsunami. It then became "Dogger Island".

Although they initially remained on dry land, the islands would sink a little over 1000 years later with rising sea levels caused by climate warming.

Ricky Joseph is a seeker of knowledge. He firmly believes that through understanding the world around us, we can work to better ourselves and our society as a whole. As such, he has made it his life's mission to learn as much as he can about the world and its inhabitants. Joseph has worked in many different fields, all with the aim of furthering his knowledge. He has been a teacher, a soldier, and a businessman - but his true passion lies in research. He currently works as a research scientist for a major pharmaceutical company, where he is dedicated to finding new treatments for diseases that have long been considered incurable. Through diligence and hard work, Ricky Joseph has become one of the foremost experts on pharmacology and medicinal chemistry in the world. His name is known by scientists everywhere, and his work continues to improve the lives of millions.